In ancient times, only two Sadhana streams were primarily prevalent in the pursuit of attaining realization of Parmatma (the ultimate supreme bliss- the God). Since then, numerous adaptations of these principal streams have been propagated by the erudite Brahmgyanis (the ones who have attained the ultimate state of realization) depending upon the time, place, and the sphere of the seekers.
These two principal Sadhana streams are the well known- (1) The Surya Sadhana and (2) The Agni Sadhana – because while Surya Deva (the sun) is the perceptible form of the ever radiant Param Deva (Supreme Consciousness- the God), Fire – the visible form of Agni Deva (the subtle fire), is the path towards attaining the realization of Parmatma.
While Surya Sadhana is the “Sandhya” endorsed by the ancient sages, the Agni Sadhana is what was known as “Yajna” or “Agnihotra”. In Surya Sadhana, while maintaining direct contact with the Surya Deva, the aim is to become one with the Supreme Param Deva– ‘the Sun of Suns’, going further ahead through the Surya Deva. Similarly, in “Yajna” Sadhana, while maintaining direct contact with the Agni Deva, the aim of “Yagyik”- the Sadhaka– is to pave up a path of fire between the “Pinda” (the individual gross body) and the “Brahmanda” (the universe). This path of the fire, which is ever-present in the body is commonly known as Sushumna, but this Path is usually blocked and to open it up is the very essence of all Sadhanas. One end of this Agni Path is located down in the Mooladhara and the other end lies up in the “Brahm Randhra” (literally meaning –hole of the Brahma). Between the two, lies many ‘Chakras’ and ‘Granthis’ (plexuses and knots or glands). When this fire awakens in the navel, it naturally moves upwards – shooting through all the Granthis, liberating the gross body of all the infirmities such as disease, aging, and mortality and thus making it refulgent- uniting the Sadhaka’s consciousness with the Mrityunjaya (the conqueror of mortality) Shiva seated in the Gagan Mandala (the sky within the body)- the Sahasrara.
Self-contemplation, devotional singing, japa, dhyana, etc. are various means for the ascendance of consciousness. However, due to the grossness and vitiation of the five elements this body is made of, a being’s consciousness vigorously remains to be downwards and outwardly bound. Agni– the Fire – is the only element whose natural tendency is ‘to ascend’. Therefore, the spontaneous ascendance of consciousness is possible in association with Agni. The Shastras go to the extent of proclaiming that “Agni is the Guru – for the Sadhakas striving for inward orientation of the Consciousness” – “गुरूरग्निर्द्विजातीनाम” (Padma Purana).
The mouth and the tongue are principal means of establishing contact with the Fire, while the hands and the eyes complement them in the process. Agni Kriya Yoga is the name given to the Scripture-Science consentient Sadhana of opening the Sushumna Path by making the gross body refulgent and disease-free through establishing direct contact with the physical flame of Fire, pervading the body with its subtle radiance and brilliance, subtly through the entire body but visibly through tongue, hands and eyes, using some assisting Kriyas.
The principal Mantra for this Sadhana is “SWAHA”, supplemented by “OM”. Between “OM” and “SWAHA”, there can be many mantras varying as per the level, sphere, devotion or intention of the Sadhaka. The Agni Mantra “Swaha”, is the doorway for exchange of the “Fire within”, and the “Fire outside” between nose-mouth and the region of the throat, while the Om Naada connects the outside fire with the “Sushumna Path” and also the subtle path of the Fire lighted in the Agni Kunda with the ‘Surya Loka’– the radiant domain of the Sun. The subtle vibrations of the Mantra chanted in-between “OM” and “Swaha”, strengthen the resolve of the Sadhaka and also annihilate the root elements of disease, sorrow and worldly delusions.
With the roaring recitation of the Agni Mantra “Swaha” in high notes, gazing steadily at the flames of fire supplemented by the appropriate Hand Gestures (Mudras), the flow of Pranas spontaneously begin to revert inwards of throat region and the Fire, embodying itself, permeates the body through the mouth, a bodily orifice. While in the ‘Surya Sadhna (also known as Siddhamrit Surya Kriya Yoga)’, a Sadhaka ingests the feast of the Sun’s radiant rays through eyes, the Sadhaka of ‘Agni Kriya Yoga’ builds up the capacity to convert the subtle fire into food.
One must remember that the greater the prevalence of Fire element in the body, the greater will be the capacity to inhale air. The extent of blood circulation in the body depends upon the force of air inhaled. The lungs wouldn’t function properly if the Agni element is not adequate. Thus the body will keep getting entangled in the vicious cycle of disease and aging. The Fire element contributes prominently in burning out the intensifying disease-causing micro-organism in the body.
Agni Kriya Yoga is a very special Sadhana. Through this Sadhana, the Fire element in its own accord gradually permeates into the different Dhatus (root base) of the body.
A fact that needs to be especially noted here is that Agni Sadhana is neither a ritualistic process nor a way of worship. It is a unique Yoga Sadhana, an austere Sadhana. To meaningfully perform this Sadhana, one has to become an austere Sadhaka. Proxy won’t work here. No priest can perform it for you either. You must perform it yourself. Generally, the “Sandhya” time is appropriate for Agni Sadhana too. Since the “Sandhya” is also believed to be the time of confluence of Prana and Apana, therefore ingress of consciousness into Sushumna can be spontaneous by piercing through the Prana and Apana at this particular time.
In this Sadhana, ‘to connect with Agni’ is of paramount importance. So care must be taken to ensure that the fire is adequately intense and direct contact is maintained with the fire throughout. Ghee should be used during Sadhana to maintain the intensity of the fire, plus ‘aahuti’ (offering to fire) of suitable fragrant material could also be used to infuse fragrance in the atmosphere as well as our Mana.
After lighting the fire amidst chanting of some specific Agni Mantras and Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra, the brilliance and effulgence of fire are transmitted in a specific order to different body parts through the Kriyas of eyes, mouth and tongue assisted by the hands.
Once the body is permeated with the effulgence of fire, direct your focus within while simultaneously concentrating on the flame of fire through open but relaxed eyes. Through the frontal nose, take some long-deep breaths extending from the navel to the head region. Also, breath by breath Japa of the Guru Mantra centering your attention on your ‘Ishta’ is to be done. (No specific way of ‘Dhyana’ needs to be specified here. It could be done as being directed to do so by one’s Gurudev!). To make the practice comprehensive and thus complete, it is crucial to reinforce the Sadhana by infusing the spirit of compassion for all.
For step-by-step verbal guidance (in English): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6TVN-su7wU
To watch a demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cv9NQUXwIaU